When one goes on a date, some questions have to be resolved or you know it's not a match. Vegan or carnivore. Heavy metal or classical, that's easy. But with Oxalis, it gets more complicated.
Take me. I'm actually very fond of the native Oxalis oregano, or redwood sorrel. Pretty in spring with pink blossoms, it's happy in the shady areas under the redwoods and spreads gently when given moderate amounts of water. It's easy to rip out if it encroaches on areas where it doesn't belong because it doesn't spread by bulblets but just sends its roots out a little further each year.
But contrast that gentle plant with its Oxalis brothers and sisters. Even the cute little brown clovers with the yellow blossoms are difficult to eradicate. I have no idea how they ended up in my garden, and I once sacrificed a fairly large area planted with succulents to make sure I got each bulblet. Pulling inevitably gets you only some of the roots, and more invaders later.
Still, I might go on a date with a gentleman who has one of those plants in his garden. I wouldn't be sure about the future of the relationship, but I'd give it a chance.
Here, however, is where I draw the line:
Yes, the here's the one weed that out-weeds them all. The plant we fear. Oxalis pes caprae. The photo is from Wikipedia, and here's what Wikipedia has to say (I left out the links):
Indigenous to South Africa, Bermuda buttercup is a highly invasive weed in many parts of the world including the United States (particularl coastal California), Europe, Israel, and Australia. It is often called by the common name sourgrass or soursob due to its pleasant sour flavor. The sourness is caused by oxalic acid, which is toxic in large quantities and may contribute to kidney stones.
The plant has a reputation for being very difficult to eliminate once it has spread over an area of land. The weed propagates through its underground bulbs and this is the principal reason why it is so difficult to eradicate, as pulling up the stems leaves the bulbs behind. Soil in which the plant has grown is generally filled with small bulbs.
Still, my date might say: "What's the big deal? Why can't you let Nature take its course? What this obsession with native plants anyway?"
To which I would answer: "It's the biodiversity, ssss...weetheart. First, if I have native plants in my garden, I'm likely to have a greater variety of insects and birds. Where one plant takes over, only a few bugs (if any) will come to visit, and that greatly reduces the birds, and... Second, even if I enjoyed a few Oxalis pes caprae with its pretty flowers in my garden, contained to a small area, I could not keep it contained. This plant has single-handedly invaded many of the areas where I like to go hiking. Some days I wonder whether it will all be pampas grass, acacias, and oxalis p.c in 10 or 15 years. This plant is a bully, and the world would be a better place if it had stayed in its native land. "
And then I'd point to the most excellent blog post from my friend Country Mouse, who experimented eradicating the enemy with a power washer last year (read this post).
After that barrage, my potential date would slink away and would most probably consider moving to the east coast. But you have do draw the line somewhere, don't you? -- Well, actually, I'm not dating. I just remembered, I'm married. What a relief!